Torah Sparks

United Synagogue (USCJ) is proud and delighted to bring you Torah Sparks, with insights and learning materials on the Parasha (Torah portion) of the week. Torah Sparks is produced by the Conservative Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

Each week there will be a Dvar Torah - a discussion on some aspect of the reading, by CY faculty, alumni and friends; a Vort - a short thought from Chasidic rebbes or other thinkers about some point in the text; and Table Talk - questions to stimulate discussion on the Parsha around the Shabbat table. Torah Sparks is available here on the Conservative Yeshiva's Shiurim Online Beit Midrash website, as well as by subscription to weekly graphical emails. Please select the Parasha you would like to see - it will display articles from each year. A printable PDF is linked at the end of each week's presentation.

Mikvaot

Introduction to Mikvaot

Introduction to Mikvaot   Today most people are familiar with the “mikveh” usually translated as a “ritual bath.” In modern halakhah it is mostly used for conversion and by women immersing after their menstrual period. Some men also have a custom of going to the mikveh but that is more as a custom.   Most […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah One   Introduction Mikvaot begins with a list of “six degrees” of the purity of mikvaot. [We should note that many tractates begin with numbers. For instance, Shabbat, Shevuot, Kiddushin, Ohalot, etc. It seems that the tannaim liked starting mishnayot in this way].  “Mikveh” here refers to any water gathered in […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Two   Introduction This mishnah is basically the same exact mishnah as yesterday’s mishnah, except the water in the pool is defiled not by a person drinking directly from it but by a person filling up an unclean vessel from it.   Mishnah Two 1)      If one drew water from it […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Three   Introduction The first three sections of today’s mishnah are the same as the first two mishnayot, except in today’s case, the water in the pool was defiled because someone poured unclean water into the pool. In the last section of today’s mishnah, Rabbi Shimon disagrees with the laws in […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      If a corpse fell into it or an unclean person walked in it, and a clean person drank of it, he is clean. 2)      The same rule applies to the water of pools, the water of cisterns, the water of ditches,  the water of caverns, the […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Five   Introduction Today’s mishnah is the last mishnah that deals with the water found in pools that are less than forty seahs. The mishnah refers to a pool of water that had been made unclean and now rain has started to flow back into it. The question is at what […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 6

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Six   Introduction Today’s mishnah is basically a repeat of mishnayot 1-3 except here we deal with rainwater that continues to flow into the pool. This rain will continuously nullify the water that has been defiled and put back into the pool. Thus, this water cannot become impure (although water taken […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 7

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Today’s mishnah talks about the next two bodies of water that have greater purity than the pool consisting of renewed rainwater.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Superior to such [water] is [the water of] the mikveh containing forty seahs, for in it people may immerse themselves and immerse other […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 1, Mishnah 8

Mikvaot, Chapter One, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the two bodies of water that have the highest degree of purity.   Mishnah Eight 1)      Superior to them are “smitten waters” which can purify even when flowing [on the ground]. 2)      Superior to them are “living waters” for in them there is immersion […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      Any handles of vessels which have been fixed not in their usual manner, or, if fixed in their usual manner, have not been fixed firmly, or, if fixed firmly, have been broken, they block.  2)      If a vessel was immersed with its mouth downwards, it is […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      A bolster and a cushion of leather—it is necessary that the water enter inside them.   2)      A round cushion or a ball or a bootmaker’s last or an amulet or a phylactery, it is not necessary that the water enter inside them. 3)      This is […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Three   Introduction This mishnah lists things that don’t require the water of the mikveh to enter into them in order to be cleansed.   Mishnah Three The following do not require that the water shall enter inside them: 1)      Knots [in the clothes] of a poor man, 2)      or in […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Four   Introduction Today’s mishnah is the opposite of yesterday’s. It deals with situations in which water does need to come into contact with the insides of knots or other such cases.   Mishnah Four The following require that water shall enter inside them: 1)      The knot in an undergarment which […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      Any handles of vessels which are too long and which will be cut short, need only be immersed up to the point of their proper measure.   a)      Rabbi Judah says: [they are unclean] until the whole of them is immersed. 2)      The chain of a large […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 6

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Six   Introduction The first half of our mishnah discusses the purification of impure water through a process known as “kissing.” This is when the edge of a vessel with impure water is brought up and allowed to “kiss” or “touch” a body of purifying water. The second half deals with […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 7

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      All foods combine together to make up the half of a half-loaf which makes the body unfit. 2)      All liquids combine together  to make up the quarter-log which makes the body unfit. 3)      This is more of a stringency in the case of one who drinks […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 10, Mishnah 8

Mikvaot, Chapter Ten, Mishnah Eight   Introduction The last mishnah in Mikvaot! This mishnah deals with purifying things that have been swallowed up in the body.   Mishnah Eight 1)      If one ate unclean foods or drank unclean liquids and then he immersed and then vomited them up, they are still unclean because they did […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah One   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a case of an impure person who immersed himself in a mikveh in order to become pure, but it is unclear whether he did so in a manner that would purify him. In all such cases he is not considered clean. The reason is […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 10

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a mikveh whose forty seahs are a mixture of mud and water.   Mishnah Ten 1)      A mikveh which contains forty seahs of water and mud [combined]: a)      Rabbi Eliezer says: one may immerse objects in the water but one may not immerse them […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      If a mikveh was measured and was found lacking [in its prescribed quantity], all things which had been purified in it, whether in private domain or in a public domain,  are accounted unclean retroactively. 2)      To what does this rule apply?  To a serious uncleanness.  3)      […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Three   Introduction Drawn water that falls into a mikveh that has less than forty seahs of water is invalid and remains invalid even if more kosher water comes into the mikveh. In Toharot 4:7 we learned that if there is a doubt about whether drawn water went into the mikveh, […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      Rabbi Eliezer says: a quarter-log of drawn water in the beginning makes the mikveh invalid, and three logs on the surface of the water.   2)      But the sages say: both in the beginning and at the end, the measure [which makes the mikveh invalid] is three […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Five   Introduction Picture a hole in the ground that is to be used for a mikveh. There is currently no water in the hole, but there are three cavities adjacent to the hole, each of which has in it one log of drawn water. If this water is part of […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 6

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If one scraped mud to the sides and then three logs [of water] were drawn out from it [from the mud], [the mikveh is still] valid. 2)      But if removed the mud away and three logs were drawn from it [into the mikveh] it becomes invalid.   […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 7

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Seven   Introduction This mishnah deals with rain water that collected in jars on the roof. Is this rain water considered to be “drawn water” such that it will disqualify the water in the cistern to be used as a mikveh.   Mishnah Seven 1)      If one had left wine-jars on […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 8

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Eight   Mishnah Eight 1)      A plasterer forgot his lime-tub in a cistern and it became filled with water: if water flowed above it a little, it may be broken; and if not, it may not be broken, the words of Rabbi Eliezer. 2)      But Rabbi Joshua says: in either case […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 2, Mishnah 9

Mikvaot, Chapter Two, Mishnah Nine   Introduction This is the final mishnah in the series concerning water that overflowed vessels into a mikveh. Note that in today’s mishnah, Rabbi Eliezer and Rabbi Joshua do not disagree. This is a sign that Rabbi Eliezer agrees that in this case the water does not count as drawn […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Three, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      Rabbi Yose says: two mikvehs neither of which contains forty seahs and a log and a half [of drawn water] fell into this one and a log and a half into this one, and then they are mixed together, they remain valid, since they had never  […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Two   Introduction Today’s mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s. It explains how a mikveh that has been disqualified because three logs fell into it can again become valid.   Mishnah Two 1)      How so? If there was a cistern in a courtyard and three logs [of drawn water] fell into […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If a cistern is full of drawn water and a channel leads into it and out of it, it continues to be invalid until it can be reckoned that there does not remain in it three logs of the former [water].   2)      If two men each […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 3, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Three, Mishnah Four   Introduction This mishnah is a continuation of yesterday’s mishnah. It continues to deal with logs of drawn water that fell from different vessels joining together to disqualify a mikveh.   Mishnah Four 1)      [If the three logs of drawn water fell in] from one vessel or from two or […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Four, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      If one put vessels under a water-spout, whether they be large vessels or small vessels or even vessels of dung, vessels of stone or earthen vessels,  they make the mikveh invalid.  2)      It is all alike whether they were put there [purposely] or were [merely] forgotten, […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Two   Introduction Our mishnah continues to deal with vessels placed under a water-spout and whether the water that flows from the roof, through the spout, into the vessel and then into the mikveh counts as drawn water to disqualify the mikveh.   Mishnah Two 1)      One who put a board […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Three   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with cases where the water-spout itself is considered a vessel and therefore any water that flows from it would disqualify the mikveh.   Mishnah Three 1)      If one makes a hollow in a water-spout to collect pebbles, its water disqualifies the mikveh; a)      In the […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four 1)      Drawn water and rain water which were mixed together in a courtyard or in a cavity or on the steps of a cave: a)      If the greater part was valid, the whole is valid; b)      And if the greater part is invalid, the whole is invalid. […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 4, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter Four, Mishnah Five   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with the water gathered either in a trough found inside a rock, or with some sort of containing vessel made out of the stone of such a trough.   Mishnah Five 1)      In the case of a trough in a rock: a)      One may not […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Five, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      [Water from] a spring which is made to pass over into a trough becomes invalid. 2)      If it was made to pass over the edge in any quantity, [what is] outside [the trough] is valid, for [the water of] a spring purifies however little its quantity.  […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      If it was made to pass over the outside of vessels or over a bench: a)      Rabbi Judah says: behold it remains as it was before.  b)      Rabbi Yose says: behold it is like a mikveh, except that one may not immerse anything above the bench. […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      If [water from] a spring that flows into many channels was increased in quantity so that it was made to flow in abundance, it remains as it was before.   2)      If it was standing and its quantity was increased so that it was made to flow, […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Four   Introduction Our mishnah deals with the status of the seas—do they count as a mikveh or as living waters? The exact same mishnah is found in Parah 8:8. Most of my commentary is the same as it was there.   Mishnah Four 1)      All seas are equivalent to a […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      Flowing water is considered like a spring and dripping water is considered like a mikveh. 2)      Rabbi Zadok   testified that if flowing water exceeded dripping water [with which it was mixed] it was valid [as flowing water].   3)      If dripping water became flowing water, its flow […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 5, Mishnah 6

Mikvaot, Chapter Five, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If a wave was separated [from the sea] and was forty seahs, and it fell on a man or on vessels, they become clean. 2)      Any place containing forty seahs is valid for immersing oneself and for immersing other things.   3)      One may immerse in trenches […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      Anything which is joined with [the water of] a mikveh is like a mikveh. 2)      One may immerse in holes of a cavern  and in crevices of a cavern  just as they are. 3)      The pit of a cavern, one may not immerse in it unless […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 10

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Ten   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a bathtub that has a pipe leading out of it for drainage. The bathtub itself seems to have been filled up with collected rainwater, such that the water in it could be valid as a mikveh. However, the pipe has a stopper on the […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 11

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Eleven   Introduction Today’s mishnah deals with a pool of cool water that people were accustomed to immerse in after bathing in the hot waters of the bathhouse. The waters in the bathhouse were definitely drawn water, so one would need to purify after emerging from the hot bath.   Mishnah […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      If a bucket was full of utensils and they were  immersed, they become clean; 2)      But if [the bucket] was not immersed, the water in the bucket is not considered as joined  [with the water of the mikveh] unless it be joined [by means of a […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Three   Mishnah Three 1)      Three mikvehs, two of which held twenty seahs [of valid water] and the third held twenty seahs of drawn water, and that holding drawn water was at the side: a)      If three persons went down and immersed themselves in them and [the water of the three […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four If a sponge or a bucket containing three logs of water fell into a mikveh, they do not make it invalid, because they have only said: “if three logs fell in.”   Explanation This mishnah is a great example of how some later rabbis read and expound […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      A chest or a box which is in the sea: one may not immerse in them unless they have a hole as large as the tube of a water-skin. a)      Rabbi Judah says: in the case of a large vessel [the hole should be] four handbreadths, […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 6

Toharot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Six   Introduction Today’s mishnah brings up some interesting cases in which a person can become pure and be made impure at virtually the same time.   Mishnah Six 1)      If there was a broken [earthenware] vessel in the mikveh and utensils were immersed in it, they become clean from their […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 7

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Seven   Introduction Our mishnah talks about how two mikvaot can be joined together such that if each has less than forty seahs of water, we can consider them both together so that they have forty seahs.   Mishnah Seven 1)      Mikvaot can be joined together [if their connection is as […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 8

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Eight   Introduction Today’s mishnah teaches how one can use one valid mikveh to make valid another mikveh valid.   Mishnah Eight 1)      Mikvaot may be made clean [by joining drawn water from] a higher [mikveh to valid water] from a lower [mikveh or drawn water from] a distant [mikveh to […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 6, Mishnah 9

Mikvaot, Chapter Six, Mishnah Nine   Mishnah Nine 1)      If a wall between two mikvaot had a perpendicular crack, [their waters] may be reckoned together; a)      [If it was cracked] horizontally, they cannot be reckoned together, unless there is at one place [a hole as big] as the tube of a water-skin. b)      Rabbi Judah […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 1

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah One   Mishnah One 1)      Some materials raise the mikveh up [to the required quantity] and do not make it invalid. 2)      Some make it invalid and do not raise it up [to the required quantity]; 3)      And some neither raise it up [to the required quantity] nor make it invalid. […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 2

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Two   Mishnah Two 1)      These invalidate the mikveh and do not raise it up to [the required quantity]: a)      Drawn water, whether clean or unclean, water that has been used for pickling or for boiling, and grape-skin wine before it becomes vinegar.  b)      How do they make the mikveh invalid […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 3

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Three   Introduction Our mishnah deals with various ways in which a change in the color of the water of the mikveh can render it invalid.   Mishnah Three 1)      If he rinsed in the mikveh baskets of olives or baskets of grapes and they changed its color, it remains valid. […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 4

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Four   Mishnah Four If wine or the sap of olives fell into the mikveh and changed the color of a portion of the water, if there is not a portion [of the mikveh] that has forty seahs with the color of water, one may not immerse in there.   Explanation […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 5

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Five   Mishnah Five 1)      If a kortov of wine fell into three logs of water and its color became like that of wine, and the water then fell into a mikveh, it does not render it invalid.   2)      If there were three logs of water less a kortov into which […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 6

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Six   Mishnah Six 1)      If a mikveh contained forty seahs exactly and two persons went down and immersed themselves one after the other, the first becomes clean but the second remains unclean.   a)      Rabbi Judah says: if the feet of the first were still touching the water, the second also […]

Mikvaot, Chapter 7, Mishnah 7

Mikvaot, Chapter Seven, Mishnah Seven   Mishnah Seven 1)      If he immersed a bed in it, even though its legs sink into the thick mud, it still becomes clean because the water touched them before [the mud].   2)      The water of a mikveh which is shallow, one may press down even bundles of sticks, even […]

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